Hollywood’s makeup history and the legacy of Max Factor

On this night of the MET GALA in New York, I say NYC has the MET, while we have Hollywood. Let’s talk makeup!

If you're a woman (and some men), who doesn't rely on makeup at least once in our lives? As a television news anchor, I'm reliant on it! 

As a student of current events, I was thrilled to learn the history of Max Factor makeup after exploring the Hollywood Museum.  

Max Factor was Tinsel Town's make-up king. The Max Factor building on Highland south of Hollywood Boulevard is now a museum. Donelle Dadigan, who founded the museum, calls it a love letter to Hollywood. The museum has a collection of more than 10,000 items

It was where actors got their glam up until the 1970s. Dadigan gave me a personal tour.  

The specialized and color-coded rooms where were icons got the looks we love. For example, take the redheads room where Lucille Ball got her signature red hair or the "blondes only room where Marilyn Monroe became a blonde."

The brand was founded in 1909 by Factor, a Russian who immigrated to America and transitioned with the film industry as it turned technicolor. Factor created the first lip gloss, pancake make-up, and wand mascara. In its turnover from family to corporate, it was once owned by Proctor and Gamble.

Max Factor is now owned by Coty beauty brand. Its famous face is actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas and is most often sold online.

My interest in all this came in February at the museum’s costume exhibit for Black History Month. I'd learned a Brazilian cousin on my father's side was in an Oscar winning film from the golden era. The late Lea Garcia was a legend in Brazil. Her breakout role was in Black Orpheus that won the 1960 Oscar for best foreign film.

Dadigan says it was Factor who also created the looks for Black actors, like Lena Horne and Sidney Poitier.

To create a look today we use highlighter and shadow and contouring. Factor had a tool that looked like something out of an old science fiction movie to design the perfect face and correct the so-called flaws. It's called beauty calibrator! Dadigan says everyone wants to know about the beauty calibrator. 

"There's one in existence," Dadigan said.

It's at the Hollywood Museum and it is open to public. Those interested can click here for more information on getting tickets.